Moreover by eventually securing all three points they also ensured that it was Queen of the South rather than themselves who fell through the automatic relegation trap door.
A storming second half effort from the home side capped off by two stunning goals from Keigan Parker and an 88th minute winner from substitute Ross Robertson, pictured, was no less than Brian Reid’s men deserved. The Ayr manager professed himself well satisfied if a tad frustrated that his side find themselves facing a showdown with the side finishing fifth in the Second Division.
“A big result for us” he reflected. “I was delighted with the way we came back into the game. Now we have to gather ourselves for the play-offs. I’m a wee bit disappointed to be in them though as I felt we should have had a point last week and that would have given us something to play for in the last game next week, but it’s done now.”
Aside from the scraping for points, this occasion was not without its historic landmarks, occurring as it did 50 years to the day since Dundee were crowned champions of Scotland for the first and only time. Keeping the focus on happier times though, Dundee took to the field sporting natty replicas of the shirts worn by Alan Gilzean et al on that great day at Muirton Park.
The retro look didn’t look at all out of place in the distinctly traditional surrounds of Somerset Park, which with its fading paintwork and still expansive uncovered terracing looks exactly what it is – a ground from another century. No wonder many supporters love it. Having said that there wasn’t exactly much love being spread around by the home fans after 13 minutes after their side gifted Dundee the lead in abysmally cheap fashion. Chris Smith sent a header back in the direction of his goalkeeper Kevin Cuthbert that was so lacking in power that it didn’t even warrant the description short – Ryan Conroy pounced on the gift in clinical fashion. To be fair to the hosts they dusted themselves down fairly impressively and actually played most of the decent football that was on offer in the opening 45 minutes.
Veteran Mark Roberts went close with a header, while a burst of sustained pressure from the Honest Men saw the Dundee goal use up the best part of nine lives as the ball ricocheted around the six-yard box like a pinball.
News that Queen of the South were trailing Raith at half time and that Kilmarnock were also in arrears at that point lifted the spirits of the distinctly grumpy patrons of the old Somerset Park grandstand. They were given further cause for optimism as Ayr continued to plough forward in spirited fashion.
As it was a day whose theme had been about turning back the clock, it was entirely apt that Parker, once regarded as one of Scottish football’s most promising emerging talents in his early days at St Johnstone over a decade or so ago, stepped up to prove that there was probably some substance to all the fuss by dispatching a beauty of a free kick past Rab Douglas to level the scores.
The script was then to take an unforeseen twist as the visitors gained the upper hand once again when Steven Milne knocked in Gary Irvine’s cross.
However, the trip down memory lane was complete as Parker somehow contrived to better his earlier strike with a heroic scissor kick to restore parity.
With the old ground fairly rocking with giddy excitement, the hosts dramatically pulled it out of the fire. A woeful sliced clearance from the visitors as they tried to get themselves out of a fankle set up a chance for young Robertson and he calmly prodded it into the net.